LAST WEEK, THE ARVIND KEJRIWAL GOVERNMENT in Delhi launched the Electric Vehicle Policy for the national capital under which the AAP government will waive registration fee, road tax, and provide an incentive of up to Rs 1.5 lakh for new cars. With this policy, the government aims to generate employment to give a boost to Delhi's economy and reduce pollution levels in the national capital.
This spells good news to electric vehicles makers who have been waiting patiently for the government to kick-start the EV regime. Under the policy, the Delhi government will give incentive of up to Rs 30,000 for two-wheelers, autos, e-rickshaws and freight vehicles while for cars, it will provide an incentive of up to Rs 1.5 lakh.
While India has several EV makers, one twowheeler company that stands out is Ather Energy. Its co-founder & CEO Tarun Mehta has for long been a strong proponent of electric vehicles. The announcement by the Delhi government also prompted the company to declare its intention to begin sales operations of the 450X in Delhi.
Manufacturing Today speaks to Tarun Mehta to understand his journey, the adventure, and his determination.
Though the government is supporting EVs, it hasn't taken off. What are some of the reasons?
TM: Actually, it’s a misnomer that the strategy hasn't worked. People haven't understood how the industry works. The automotive industry does not operate in quarters or months. It operations in spans of half a decade or decades, and if you look at the timeline, it was sometime in 2018 that the government started talking about electric. In the same year, it offered incentives. So these things take time.
Most OEMs are at the design stage now in their EV venture. It takes three years for a variance creation, another two years for a new product, and yet another two for a new platform creation. And if it's a new technology, it could be even longer. This is likely the biggest disruption in the automotive industry last 80 years.
Ather has made a lot of noise and we have been able to establish our products. There are other well-known players in the fray and the market can expect some critical products, going forward.
You have cornered every angle as far as Ather is concerned, whether it’s design, experience, charging infrastructure. Can you tell us about this journey from 2013 till now?
Our approach has been fairly deeply integrated. And if you want the customer’s attention, then we have all the infrastructure in place. The idea was to offer customers an experience hitherto unknown.
On the design front, we realised after a year or so that most components we seek will not be available as per our expectations because the technologies are yet to develop and there are few spending on building these supply chains.
That made us self-reliant. We started building our own batteries, battery management systems, chargers, and. We even wrote our own software and began making parts. Then we moved to manufacturing. Soon we realised that manufacturing of these components is not feasible. It was then that we set up a battery plant.
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